Privacy and its American Context

Our world − saturated by social media and artificial intelligence − has become increasingly public. Ever more willing to share intimate details, Americans young and old post very private, sometimes damning, information online with little regard for consequences. Partly as a result, both the government and private companies have access to unprecedented amounts of information that is compiled into databases and readily available to those willing to pay subscription fees. Given the sheer pervasiveness of technology and data collection, we ought to have an intensive national dialogue on an appropriate legislative response. Before that debate happens, however, we must have a firm theoretical understanding of what exactly we mean by “privacy.”

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Jefferson and Buffon: Men of Science

Thomas Jefferson and the Comte de Buffon had fundamentally different understandings of the natural world, a discord that stemmed from Buffon’s “individualism,” that is, what Jefferson saw as a hesitancy to categorically classify species. Such an epistemology,  Jefferson argued, threatened to return the scientific community to the days of Aristotle and Pliny. It would undo the order that modern science had worked so diligently to instill in our understanding of the natural world. A belief in the importance of such an order was crucial to Jefferson’s very character. A man of science, he devoted much of his life to discovery, categorization, and systemization.

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The Use of History, Then and Now

During the first discussion, “History: Past and Future,” panelists at the recent AHI conference debated the ways Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson used history. For a conference organized by a history professor and a panel laden with historians, that question seemed fitting but awkwardly put. While everyone in the room knew what Steve Ely, the moderator, was asking, I chafed against the phrase “use history.”

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Immoral Republicans: A Response

Last week, The Monitor published “The Inherent Immorality of the Republican Party.” I urge my readers−Democratic, Republican, and otherwise−to look over that article, if they have not already. In it, Evan Weinstein argues that Republicans or at least conservatives “have always been morally deficient.” Unable to comprehend how Republicans can hold views that he feels are morally debased while being seemingly kind and caring, Mr. Weinstein is left puzzled.

Mr. Weinstein and I, and likely many others, agree that President Trump is amoral. The president’s infamously repugnant attitude toward women alone is enough to corrode his moral credibility. It is, however, an unsubstantiated overgeneralization to claim that “Republicans tend to be less friendly and empathetic to those with racial or economic or gender differences.” Such a logical leap seems based more on feeling than serious consideration of Republican or conservative principles.

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Historic Preservation in Cuba

When Americans think of Cuba, they often think of a land frozen in time. Indeed, a quick Google search for “Cuba” brings forward images of vintage cars parked in front of historic, if run-down, looking buildings. Palm trees and statues stand side-by-side in what is undoubtedly a historic island. Given such a reputation, one might assume that Cuba has a robust national agenda for historic preservation. But this is not the case. Due to the lessening of tensions between Cuba and the United States that began under the Obama administration, tourism in the country has continued to increase. Tourism and preservation efforts are not usually forces that work in tandem. Accordingly, those of us who are history-minded should pay close attention to the ongoing state of preservation practice in Cuba.



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